Airshow generates buzz amid downturn

14:37, July 19, 2010      

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Plane manufacturers, airlines, government ministers and military top brass were scheduled to gather for the Farnborough International Airshow in England amid hopes that the two-year downturn in the aviation and defense industry is nearing a bottom.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft performs a flypast over the runway at Farnborough airport in Farnborough, southern England July 18, 2010. The bi-annual Farnborough International Airshow will begin on Monday.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo

The arrival of Boeing Co's long-awaited - and long-delayed - 787 jet at Farnborough's airfield yesterday helped generate a buzz for the start of the industry's premier event, but concerns remain about the slow global economic recovery and sharp cuts to national defense budgets.

New orders for commercial aircraft are likely to be restrained and restricted to buyers from strong emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia, while activity on the defense side of the show is expected to be muted.

Boeing and its arch-rival Airbus, meanwhile, head into the event facing growing challenges to their duopoly in the mid-sized civilian jet market from smaller manufacturers, including Canada's Bombardier and Brazil's Embraer.

Analysts, who are looking to Farnborough to take the pulse of the industry's health, expect the event to be more upbeat than last year's sister show in Le Bourget outside Paris, but they aren't holding their breath for commercial plane orders anywhere near the record-breaking US$88.7 billion worth announced in Farnborough in 2008.

"A lot depends on if the economic recovery continues, if there is a double dip in the recession, then all bets are off," Forecast International analyst Raymond Jaworowski said. "We should start to see orders accelerate late this year."

The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association has forecast that global industry profits will reach US$2.5 billion this year, an upturn from the huge US$9.4 billion loss in 2009.

More than 1,000 exhibitors from 38 countries have signed up for Farnborough with delegations from Egpyt, Chinese Taipei and Morocco attending for the first time.

Organizers also cited stronger interest from major players such as China and Russia.



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